Archive for Treasure Island

Robert Newton: A Man You Can Trust

Posted in FILM, Theatre with tags , , , , , on May 22, 2008 by dcairns

The lovable, kissable, lickable visage of Robert Newton, pictured in the film with the world’s greatest title, KISS THE BLOOD OFF MY HANDS, a film in which he actually utters the line “You’ve only gorn an’ done it.” Now, there are ten things, and ten things only which you need to know about this man.

One) Robert Newton invented and trademarked the expression “Arr!” which he deployed to great effect in TREASURE ISLAND (1950) and nearly everything else.

Two) Any other actor of stage or screen seeking to use this expression had to pay Robert thruppence.

Three) Robert liked the sound of “Arrr” so much he used it as the beginning of his name. Before he invented his catchphrase, his name was “Obert Newton”.

Four) Although he was a hero to comedian Tony Hancock and drummer Keith Moon, Robert’s enduring legacy rests in the fact that his nose was used as the model for the design of the famous Belisha Beacon.


Five) A keen tippler (chronic alcoholic), Robert eventually had a cocktail named after him. The Newton’s Law consists of equal parts methylated spirits, laudanum, and dead skin.

Six) Robert would sometimes explain his incessant boozing by making the claim that he had, as a young man, contracted a rare spinal disease that would cause him, if he ever became sober, to ignite. Although this story has no basis in scientific fact, there is little doubt Robert had convinced himself it was true.

Seven) Despite his expertise at onscreen villainy, Robert was known as a kindly gentleman who wouldn’t hurt a fly, unless it had wronged him severely.

Eight) He killed a man once though, for looking at him funny.

Nine) Robert’s acclaimed performance as Bill Sykes in David Lean’s film of OLIVER TWIST was modelled closely upon the behaviour of the actor’s own stomach.

Ten) Once, when Trevor Howard drank him under the table, Robert retaliated by drinking Trevor under the floor. Then Trevor drank Robert under the earth. And that was an end to it.